Since we’re almost halfway to Halloween, I thought it would be the perfect time to review two collections by Ronald Kelly – Mister Glow-Bones and Other Halloween Tales and The Halloween Store and Other Tales of All Hallow’s Eve.
Each collection contains a handful of short stories centered around Halloween and two to three non-fiction essays from Kelly’s youth. Both collections really scratch that nostalgia itch for a good old-fashioned spooky story.
The titular tale in Mister Glow-Bones and Other Halloween Tales is my favorite in the collection. It’s the story of an articulated cardboard skeleton who kills on Halloween night. I also really enjoyed Pins & Needles, about a man who gets comuppance after poisoning and putting razors and pins into children’s treats; and Pelingrad’s Pit, about a mysterious pit in Old Man Pelingrad’s back yard.
Pretty Little Lanterns in The Halloween Store and Other Tales of All Hallow’s Eve was my favorite in this second collection. It’s a little tale of mystery about jack-o-latern’s made of human heads. Other notable tales are The Halloween Store, about kids turning into their Halloween costumes; and Mr. Mack is Back in Town, a follow-up to Mister Mack and the Monster Mobile from Mister Glow-Bones.
For those of us who cut our fangs on Goosebumps growing up, these collections will be especially appealing. The just have that feel, you know? Crisp, cool air; autumn leaves, reading under a blanket with a flashlight, sneaking candy. They remind you of the idealistic Halloween that everyone loves.
If you need something to help you make it through to October, I recommend picking up these short little collections. If you really want a treat, order them from Ronald Kelly’s webstore. Every book comes signed and he will draw a little doodle in them as well!
A nostalgic Halloween read by Christopher Golden
4/5 Star Review
It’s Halloween night, 1984, in the small town of Coventry, Massachsetts. In the neighborhood surrounding Parmenter Road, the Barbosas are setting up their annual Haunted Woods spook walk for charity; The Koenigs are setting up for their big Halloween party; Barbara Sweeney is out looking for her drunken, philandering husband; and all the kids are getting ready for trick-or-treat. During the evening, four children show up who do not belong and beg the neighbors and neighborhood children to help them – to hide them from The Cunning Man. Tension and fear escalate as the night wears on and the mysterious children become more frantic and long-held neighborhood secrets come to light.
“Nothing in these woods could be more dreadful, more terrifying, than the selfish cruelty of ordinary people.”
All Hallows is part supernatural thriller and part suburban drama. We have a cast of characters that the reader feels very strongly about and can easily relate to. Love them, or hate them, you care what happens to them. Almost to the detriment of caring much about the supernatural element. The human monsters are the real stars of the show in this one, folks.
This novel breathes Halloween. You can smell the autumn leaves and crisp, cool air; you can taste the apple cider and the candy bars. All Hallows pulls all of the heartstrings to bring you back to the Halloweens of your youth where you used to race each other to houses and it was safe to go out with your friends. That sick feeling of sadness in your gut when you know it’s going to be your last year of trick-or-treat – Golden excels at giving life to the emotions surrounding the holiday.
If you’re looking for a slow-burn horror novel, chock full of character development – this read is for you. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, gory, supernatural monster book – you may want to take a pass on this one.
A spooky little Halloween novella by C.V. Hunt
3.5/5 Star Review
I’m wrapping up reviews for books read in the last week of April and you know what that means – we are less than halfway to Halloween! Over on the Spine Breakers YouTube channel, Sue and Megan have been hosting Halfaweenathon 2020. You can find the the original video and the reading challenges here.
I read Halloween Fiend for challenges #1 – Read a book with black or orange on the cover and #4 – Read a book with a spooky word in the title. I was running out of time so I had to combine challenges for this book!
Halloween Fiend is a quick and spooky little read. The novella follows the story of Barry as All Hallow’s Eve looms closer and closer in the town of Strang. It’s a town with a long-held secret – it plays victim to a dark creature that the townsfolk have come to simply call Halloween. Every night, small sacrifices, treats, must be left out for Halloween so that it can be kept at bay. Barry is tired of it all and wants out, but it is not quite so simple as that…
Hunt has created an eerie mythos surrounding Halloween and the town of Strang. It’s a little similar to Jackson’s ‘The Lottery,’ but a with a more cult-like attitude toward it all. Halloween Fiend is a very atmospheric read; You can smell fall in the crisp air as you pass through the town square and likewise taste the stale smoke on the back of your tongue that comes from decades of smoking inside a closed house.
I had two minor complaints about Halloween Fiend – neither major enough to keep me from recommending this title, but worth a mention. The first is that the main character, Barry, is too generic. I often forgot that I was supposed to be reading from the perspective of a middle-aged man. It’s not necessarily pivotal to the plot, so it is easy to overlook. My second is that I found some of the plot points to be a little too vague. I am all about ambiguity in horror – I quite love it, actually. There were just one or two explanations that I would have liked to have been more forthcoming in the story.
Overall, this was a fun read! If you are looking for a quick little tale to get you in the spirit of Halloween then this is definitely one to pick up.